Daniel Chirot, the Jackson School’s Herbert J. Ellison professor of Russian and Eurasian studies at the University of Washington, was interviewed by several media as part of global reactions to the recent “Brexit” vote.
Below is Professor Chirot’s contribution to The Conversation’s article on “Brexit: global reaction to Britain’s vote to leave the EU” and Economy Watch “Brexit Reaction Was Swift“, both published on June 24, 2016.
“After the referendum, British opinion remains badly split. The typical “Leave” voter is similar to supporters of Donald Trump in the US and National Front voters in France. Xenophobic, angry nationalist and isolationist parties have been rising all over Europe.
This is the revolt of the losers who feel marginalised by globalisation. Perceptions of economic insecurity, unwelcome cultural change, intrusion of untraditional, foreign ideas, and a sense of national decline have produced a massive backlash against ruling establishments.
Sadly, the closure to the outside world they demand, if carried out, would plunge much of the world into economic depression and cause immense international conflict. We would be back in the 1930s, heading for disaster.
Alarmingly, the losers’ anger is also a revolt against the liberal Enlightenment values of tolerance and openness to progressive ideas that seemed, only 25 years ago, to finally have prevailed. Similar threats in the 20th century were ultimately reversed by the defeat of first fascism and then communism, but are now back.
Only reinvigorated economic growth, better protection for the inevitable losers of globalisation and greater sympathy for their frustrations can ease their anger. Establishment parties of the moderate right and left have failed to help. Unless they do, the crisis will continue to worsen. The referendum’s results solve nothing.”